The Indian government is planning to impose mandatory local testing and certification on 5G smartphones from January 1, 2023 before they are made commercially available to consumers. The proposal didn’t go well with Indian telcos who have now warned that such a move will impact the 5G ecosystem and severely limit the availability of 5G smartphones just when commercial launch of 5G services are expected to commence.
Operators Reliance Jio, Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel told the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) that the move would hit data consumption, restrict market access and deprive consumers from buying the latest 5G smartphones phones, according to a report by the Economic Times.
The Telecom Engineering Centre (TEC), the telecom department’s technical wing, recently decided to bring 5G smartphones under Phase-5 of the Mandatory Testing & Certification of Telecom Equipment (MTCTE) regime. Wireline equipment such as GPON routers already are tested under the MTCTE regime. India plans to test 5G smartphones at accredited local labs.
The move comes at a time when Indian telcos are preparing for long-awaited 5G spectrum auctions, which are expected to take place in May or June this year. Telcos have informed the government that they can switch on their 5G networks by the start of 2023. But subjecting 5G smartphones to MTCTE testing at the same time will limit the number of smartphones available when the services are ready for launch, the telcos said.
Indian telcos have also told the DoT that such a move would also impact “India’s ambitions of becoming a global handset manufacturing base.”
The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), the representative body of Indian telcos, has sought DoT secretary K. Rajaraman’s intervention to instruct TEC to rescind the existing notifications covering all existing consumer electronic products under the MTCTE Certification regime and “to desist in pursuing smartwatches, wearables, and smart cameras under Phase III and 5G mobile phones under the proposed Phase V of MTCTE.”
The COAI along with smartphone makers have urged the DoT and its technical wing to not to interfere in mobile manufacturing.